Do surveys make any difference? Ask Santa?

21 Dec 2009 by Karl Hallam

Do surveys make any difference? Does making information available  to citizens change behaviour? Does sending a letter to Santa work? The government's early Christmas present this year is the announcement of a new Civic Health report. This report will, according to the Communities department 'take the pulse of modern England and allow people to see how voting patterns, social habits and feelings of belonging vary across the country is being developed by Government'.

It is all very interesting and later in the release it says how this will be helpful to 'Active citizens, community groups, local and national leaders will be able to see at a glance how their area compares to others on issues such as levels of volunteering, feelings of empowerment and perceptions of community cohesion. The report will set these measures in the context of other factors, such as employment and deprivation to help people build an understanding of how those factors may be affecting the civic health of their area'.

The point is that we think it is interesting, because we were already interested in these issues. More info is good for us and our colleagues and many of our clients. But, are the general public really going to change behaviour becasue of the publication of a report telling them how things are? Isn't easier to see if your bus arrives, that the roads are gritted, the school does OK by your kids and that your elderly relative gets the care they need? That your neighbours help out when you have a crisis? That you help out the local community group and so on ... a bit like the Electoral Commission campaign a few years ago where people who said 'they don't do politics' were shown to be runnnig into it in all facets of their life.

Last week the most recent results of the Active People survey were released. This revealed that potato couch activity is up and most other sporting activity, apart from cycling, is down. The survey, which again we find very interesting, is not making people active.

People make their judgements on what they experience, not on the star rating of an agency or what survey tells them. If they are happy or not they have local and national votes to show how they feel and whether, in their opinion, they think government has done what it said it was going to do.

Delivery is the word used (overused) in the public policy world. The Communities department might look at Santa, who is popular because he does deliver what kids want ... we have not noticed him issuing an annual report recently or seen a customer feedback form in the kids' stockings either.

Cadence news and views will return in the 2010.



your comments

Posts: 2
Reply #2 on : Sun October 21, 2012, 03:26:39
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Posts: 2
Reply #1 on : Fri October 19, 2012, 16:39:15
I attended his secnod session and also thought it went well. I appreciated the fact that he clearly wasn't there to sell anything, but just to help teachers feel more informed. I wasn't that keen on his presentation style (blue background and white text are not my favorite), but really appreciated the less is more approach. I loved the way he had the books spread around the room to start the session and have been trying to think of ways I could incorporate that technique into my presentations too

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